MAKARAJYOTHI - A DIVINE LIGHT / GREAT MIRACLE
The most anticipated event at Shabarimala is the MakaraJyothi (usually on January 14th). Thiruvabaranam or the sacred jewels of the Lord (presented by Pandalam King) arrives at Shabarimala in three boxes. On the arrival of the jewel boxes the whole mountain reverberates to the chanting of 'Sharanam Ayyappa' by millions of devotees gathered there to watch the event.
The Thiruvabaranam box - still the private property of Pandalam Royal Family, starts it journey two days before MakaraJyothi day from Pandalam. The person who carries the box dances in a trance that can be believed only by who witnesses it. Thiruvabaranam travels through Valiakoikkal Sastha temple at Pandalam, Ayiroor Puthia Kavu Temple, Perunattil temple, Vlakkai, Nilaikkal Siva Temple, Vellachimala, Pamba and Sabari Peedam before reaching at Sannidhanam around 6.00 p.m. on the MakaraJyothi day. Every year a Garuda hovers and flies above the Thiruvabharanam boxes as if to guard them.
On reaching the Sannidhanam the Melshanthi and Thandri recieve the sacred jewels amidst of thundering echoes of Sarana Ghosham. The Thiruvabaranam box contains a diamond crown, golden bracelets, necklaces and a sword. The priests adorn the Lord with these and peform arathi.
At the same moment a brilliant of magnificence appears in the northeastern side to the temple at opposite mountain in place called Kantamala (the home of devas and rishis). It is believed that this brilliant flame of light is the arathi performed by the rishis and the devas. This event marks the culmination of the pilgrimage to Sabarimala.
After the Jyothi, that night Malikapurathamma, mounted on an elephant comes in a procession to the Pathinettampadi (18 steps) and returns back to her abode. This is the beginning of the Makara Vilakku festival. This festival lasts for seven days. Many pilgrims stay back till this festival is over and Kuruthi pooja (offering of water mixed with chunnambu and turmeric powder to the forest deities) is performed.
Even some who leave Shabarimala after witnessing the Jyothi observe fasting till the Makara Vilakku and Kuruthi Pooja is complete at Shabarimala.
Onam, Mandalapooja, Pankuni Uthram (Lord Birthday) and Vishu are the other festivals celebrated in Shabarimala with pomp and glory.
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